After more than 400 days of construction and disruption, folks who frequent downtown Tucson will finally see the beginning of the end to streetcar track installation.
While there will continue to be some disruptions for a while, the city will weld its final rail this morning at Congress Street and North Fifth Avenue, meaning from now on the detours, lane closures and rutted, temporary paving should be on the decline.
The final weld marks an "incredibly momentous occasion" for the city as its "ambitious construction schedule" begins to wrap up, said streetcar construction manager Joe Chase in a press release.
"Momentous" as it is, the completion of this phase of the project doesn't mean smooth sailing for downtown motorists just yet, city officials cautioned.
"There will still be intermittent lane restrictions due to the remaining work that still needs to be performed," said city spokesman Mike Graham.
But the lane closures won't be as intrusive as what drivers encountered over the past year when they ventured downtown, Chase said.
Some of the remaining work includes the installation of the overhead power system, the addition of streetcar art at various stops, installation of landscaping and paving at a number of locations up and down the line.
Crews will continue work on the line throughout the summer as they aim to complete the finishing touches in time for the first car's arrival later this summer.
But the cars must undergo extensive testing before given the green light to go into service.
Cars carrying actual passengers aren't expected to start rumbling down the tracks until sometime next summer.
Congress will be temporarily shut down around 9:30 a.m. today between Toole Avenue and Fifth Avenue for the final weld.
Congress is expected to reopen shortly after 11 a.m.
Timeline: The modern streetcar
Follow the progress of SunLink's development and construction at timeline.azstarnet.com/streetcar
Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.